Monthly Archives: April 2013

A New Adventure – Taking the written word to the stage

I Am My Imaginary FriendDuring the month of March, I began a new adventure. Taking the written word to the stage. With the encouragement of a wonderful director and playwright, David Csontos, I not only took the written word to the stage with his newly expanded script for “I Am My Imaginary Friend”, but I stepped out from behind the microphone and my own comfort zone.

For me, it all began innocently enough. David invited me over to his apartment to talk about what he might be able to do to attract new actors for a new version of his play. He likes to work with people who are not professional actors or have little to no stage experience. As he puts it, it provides him with a cast that is not set in their ways, a cast that is willing to flex with the script and with the director to create something new and organic. He was, and is, willing to work with people who have been on stage, but finds that the inexperienced actor brings an element to his plays that you won’t find elsewhere. We brain stormed ideas on how to find just such a cast. At this point, I was just a sounding board. We also talked about how and where to promote the show.

He had decided that rehearsals would start the beginning of March with the performance date to be 30 March 2013. As the first of the month came closer he was still without a full cast. He had sent me a copy of the script just to help me get a better understanding of what was going on. Little did I know that I would wind up on stage as one of the most complicated and interesting of characters he had written for this play. I couldn’t make a commitment until after I had returned from an important trip to Denver, Co. It was while I was in Denver that I decided to take his offer of being in the play.

And my own March Madness began. Not just mine. It began for everyone involved with the play.

At the last minute he recruited a young man to play the lead role of Son. David had his cast and we began with a full read through the script one March evening. Just the five us. Son, Mom, Dad, and Veronica, the imaginary friend. Everything was fine, right?

No.

Less than two weeks into rehearsals we lost our Son. I won’t go into details, because I do not have them. Needless to say he was no longer available to play Son and wouldn’t be for quite sometime. In a mad dash, I picked up my phone before we began rehearsal that evening and texted my friend Damon to see if he would be interested in picking up the role and helping David’s dream come true. We were in luck. As we were reading through the script with him he fell in love (if I can use so strong a word) with the character and the concept of the play.

From there it was relatively smooth sailing.

Or almost.

At one point during rehearsals our patient director looked as if he was about to blow a gasket. It seemed as if no matter how hard we worked and how much time we spent working on our own, we just were not getting certain scenes. It would prove that at least one scene we would never quite get. It was decided that that particular evening did not happen and that we would not talk about it with anyone else. So, with that in mind, I will skip over the details….

Mom stares intently at the script while Son and Dad look on. Veronica is behind the camera and David explains a scene.

Mom stares intently at the script while Son and Dad look on. Veronica is behind the camera and David explains a scene.

Even with all the problems than can come about when four strong personalities get together to tackle four strong characters, the cast and the director did bond – over pizza, tea, beer, wine, and cigarettes. March was not a month for any of us to quit any of our vices. Except for Damon, he’s not a smoker.

Our director did something that I was not expecting. Most of our rehearsals were one on one or just two people at a time. Many of the scenes could easily be done without everyone there. It was only the scenes with the whole cast or when doing complete read-throughs that all of us were needed. One of those times was with our tech guy, the roommate of our original Son. (More on the tech guy later.) There were times when two or more of us would meet at David’s and just talk about our characters, the meaning of certain lines or sometimes just hang out for part of the evening. That is where our bond(age)ing truly took place.

Corwin (cohost of Lavender Hill) talks with Son, the director, Veronica and Mom. Dad is off camera.

Corwin (cohost of Lavender Hill) talks with Son, the director, Veronica and Mom. Dad is off camera.

David has been on Lavender Hill a few times, so when Corwin learned that I was going to be in this latest play of his, it was decided that we should all be on Lavender Hill to talk about the play and what it takes to put together shoestring theatre. Here is a photo of Corwin and everyone but me during that visit. We managed to talk about the play without talking about the play, if you know what I mean. “Imaginary Friend” is a play without what many would consider to be a plot. That is, each scene does flow into the next, but there is a distinct difference between this kind of play and say Shakespeare. The acting experience, or lack there of, for each of the cast was talked about. Jayme, who played Veronica, and Sharon who played Mom, have both been earlier productions of David’s. Damon has done theatre with the Lincoln Community Playhouse. Me, on the other hand… Well, my stage experience is rather limited. I’ve been in a drag production (yes, production) at the Q and done speaking parts for musical performances throughout my public school career. Other than that, my acting is restricted to behind a microphone.

The night before show time we had another shoestring theatre disaster. We lost our tech guy. The poor man was home with a 101 temperature. So, once again, I grabbed my phone and starting dialing people. After a couple of false starts, including asking Corwin to come rescue us (he was doing the family thing, but did attend the early performance with his mother), I was able to get my friend and neighbor Pete to step in to fill that most vital of roles.  The tech guy is not just a sound and lighting extra. The Tech Guy, at least with this show, is very important.

In the earlier performances, both in Lincoln and in Kansas City, David used little in the way of sound effects and images on the projection screen (see the videos to know what I mean there). He did have certain sounds and music pieces recorded, but with this expanded version of the story, he wanted more. Along with the theme music (written by David) and certain images that had been used before, we included a series of images from various films and some original work created by yours truly. Obviously, the easiest way to make these sounds and images happen on the screen was to use a Power Point presentation. And that would employ the fingers and timing ability of a tech guy. Perhaps employ is the wrong word, we didn’t pay Pete after all, just fed him. And, the Tech Guy did get a line.

I’d like for you to watch the video, but to give you a bit of an idea for the images that were created for this performance, I’ll share my original work with you:

Big Ws

double intensity 2

who wants to be a homosexual 4

30 March came bright and early. Damon and I had spent extra time after rehearsal working out a couple of scenes that we were struggling with. We never did get the lines exactly as written, but the essence of what David wrote was there and he was very pleased with what he later saw on stage. All three version of it. We had also spent hours updating the Power Point presentation and making sure that everything was there in a way that made sense. Needless to say, that got changed more than once during the day of performances.

No shoestring production can go one without a hitch. As you can tell, if you have read this far, there were plenty of hitches in this production. After a late replacement of the lead character, an 11th hour tech guy change and literally last minute changes to the special effects we still weren’t beyond all the fun and excitement that those hitches can bring our way.

All three performances were in the Union Auditorium in the Student Union of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The same location as the earlier (shorter) version of the play with an entirely different cast. We were supposed to gain admittance to the auditorium at 9am. I don’t know for sure when we actually got into the room, but it was not unlocked for us by the time we started to arrive for set up and one final “dress” rehearsal. Mom was already waiting outside the doors when Damon and I arrived. David was nowhere to be seen and Veronica wasn’t due to arrive until 10. After unloading our set, a high table with chair/stools, and finding a place to park, the room was open and ready for us to use. We still had to pick up our tech guy. At 11, Damon and I left to make that happen.

Between the time we got into the auditorium and our first of three performances we did the mad dash of a final rehearsal, making sure everything was set up and that the slide show was working as smoothly as possible. We did have lunch and even made sure that our “audience” participants were ready to go (special thanks and appreciation to Susan and Dustin!!!!).

David Csontos with an earlier incarnation of Mom.

David Csontos with an earlier incarnation of Mom.

Here is what was (full video of the original play as performed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln):

Here is what it became with the hard work and dedication of a new cast:

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Addison & Cantor, Music of and for the Goddess

Two very talented musicians released Goddess centered/themed CDs in March. Lis Addison and Annette Cantor.  Both CDs are beautiful in their own way and feature music of and for the Goddess. I say “of and for” because these two women seem to be truly inspired by the feminine divine, whether they are Pagan or something else. The feeling I get as I listen to their music is so moving, so spiritual. It awakens something within me that is truly amazing. And I hope that it will do the same for you.

Crown in the Sky big

Crown in the Sky is the latest from Lis Addison. And it is a little different from some of her earlier work. It still makes me want to get up and dance, but not in the same way that Grace of the Green Leaf does. Much of Lis’s recent work has centered around a Nature theme in the song titles, or around the sense of Community that one can build both with people and with Nature. She also uses her KiVo experience (she teaches KiVo, a type of meditation in movement exercise) to inspire her work and her life.

From track one with Voice of the Free all the way through the

Lis Addison in studio

final cut of Mother Gaia, the listener is inspired to move, to dance, to vocalize their love of the Earth, the Divine and of themselves. Look Into Your Eyes (track 3) encourages the listener to take themselves into account, to take themselves to task if necessary, but to learn to recognize the good in themselves before looking outside for that which they desire, want or need. Hearts & Bones (track 5) reminds the listener that everything is connected, the people, the animals, the plants, the planets; everything.

Songs to the Goddess

Songs to the Goddess is my new favorite from Annette Cantor. Not just because it is her newest CD, but because it sings to the feminine divine in all things and all beings. Starting with her song to Tara going through Spider Woman and Yemana through to Demeter and Venus. Every track will summon up an image of the Goddess that the song is about. The weekend after the CD arrived in my mail box was a cold and wintry wet Sunday. I was at KZUM doing Murphy’s Magic Mess and we were trying to decide which track to begin with. Kate, one of the cohosts of the Mess, suggested we play Demeter as a means of reminding her that Spring should be right around the corner. It was still wet, it was still cold, but we felt warmer and happier in the studio after listening to the music.Annette Cantor

Annette’s voice fills the space around you with ethereal chords and takes you a little

deeper into the understanding of the Goddess within yourself. Does not matter if you are a woman or a man, these tracks will light that spark within you, or rekindle it from the cold, and remind you that the Goddess is within you and within everything. Listening to Songs to the Goddess is like taking a journey around the world and visiting Goddesses from many different cultures.

If you would like to purchase either CD, simply click on the CD covers and you will be taken to the best available source of ordering the music. Keep your eyes open for reviews of some of both artists’ earlier work and for more music and book reviews from your’s truly!

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Attuning to Oneness

Attuning to Oneness

Paradiso & Rasamayi have released their second duo album, Attuning to Oneness: The Harmonic Ascension, in March 2013. As readers of this blog know, I have had the opportunity to speak with them both on Skype and in person. While preparing for the launch of their newest project, the beautiful duo were on tour, stopping in Omaha, NE. That is where I had the opportunity to meet these two. I brought my friend Fay along for the experience of their harmonic attunement. Fay is an Elder of the community in Lincoln, NE and no “spring chicken”. We both suffer from arthritic joints. the venue was a yoga studio and the “audience” was asked to sit on the floor or pillows on the floor. After the experience we had very little difficulty getting up off the floor. We are both looking forward to the chance to visit with them again and experience another of their wonderful sound healing sessions.

As I did in my earlier review of their beautiful music, I will address each piece in brief.

  1. ParadisoGoddess Rising will introduce you to the theme of this collection by reminding you that each and everyone of us is a part of the Divine.
  2. The title track, Attuning to Oneness, will set the stage for your own transcendent voyage as you listen to the rest of the music.
  3. Love’s Champion will remind you that everyone can and does experience love. Love of others, love of self, love of the Divine within everyone.
  4. Master Teacher will show you the way to begin understanding just what it means to become attuned to everything and nothing all at once.
  5. Wisdom Warrior takes you one step further into the journey that shows how we each must stand before ourselves and the rest of the Universe as our own person.
  6. Staying the Path encourages us to stand firm and persevere.
  7. Harmonic Ascension will guide you through the next step of understanding, that everything happens for a reason.
  8. RasamayiDivine Alignment will attune you to the Divine in everything else, not just within yourself and the people around you. The Divine in all that exists, animate and inanimate, sentient and non-sentient.
  9. In Service begins to bring you back to the here and now, where you are reminded that after coming to such an understanding of yourself and the Universe it is up to each one of us to continue to share the love that is within us.
  10. As Above, So Below should go without saying. Everything that we do and say has impact. Whatever exists in the Heavens also exists here on Earth.
  11. And finally, All is Love will bring you to the here and now with the realization that All is Love.

Paradiso & Rasamayi

Paradiso and Rasamayi have become guides, of sorts, in a journey of the heart and soul. With this CD they will bring you to a better understanding of yourself and everything that breathes and exists. Using didgeridoo, Alchemy crystal singing bowls, keyboard, gong, theremin, Mystic drum, Shamanic percussion and crystal Merkaba, they guide you through the attunement with a divine collection of instruments and the lovely vocalizations of Rasamayi herself.

If you live in the Colorado Springs area or will be traveling there, check out their website and see when and where they might be performing. They often go on tour with their sounding healing sessions. Either way you get a chance to sit in on one of those session, do so! You will not regret it.

 

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Finally Out

Finally Out

Dr. Loren A. Olson writes from the heart and from experience. As a psychiatrist who came out of the closet in his 40’s, Dr. Olson has many years experience both as a man who came out in his middle years and as a psychiatrist who has dealt with many issues related to sexuality.

Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, a Psychiatrist’s Own Story is not always an easy read. I don’t mean that it is badly written, far from. Nor do I mean that the material is dense or hard to understand. Quite the contrary. What I do mean is that it hits home for many who will be reading it today and in the future. Dr. Olson, writing from the heart and from a good amount of experience, tells you what is going on in the hearts, minds, and even the souls of many older men who are coming to terms with their sexuality.

Like many good story tellers, he tells you what he knows, what he has lived and experienced. Starting with personal details about his own childhood and his coming to terms with the loss of his father at a very young age and moving through his college career and into his marriage and professional life, Olson tells you not just what he experienced, but what he has learned from others and by stepping out (literally) into a world that is not always friendly to older gay and bisexual men.

I was introduced to Dr. Olson through a Facebook group created by a good friend of mine. Gay Men Over 40….and The People Who Love Them provides a venue for men (and women) who are coming to terms with their own sexuality, wanting to reach out and make friends with others, and sharing the support that so many can bring in a safe and friendly atmosphere. Though I am not over 40, I do know and love many people who are (straight, gay, bi, male, female and transgender). It was because of GMO40 that I have met many interesting and unique people and been afforded the opportunity to learn from so many different perspectives. In GMO40, I saw a posting regarding Finally Out and took the step to contact Dr. Olson and go from there.

We quickly started sharing bits of information and talking about the work that he put into his book. Not too far into the conversation he offered to send me a copy of his book for review on this blog and we began negotiations for having him visit with Corwin and I on Lavender Hill at Lincoln’s KZUM radio. That visit has yet to be scheduled, but through no lack of communication! The day the book arrived in the mail I began reading it and kept reading until I was done. A copy of the book will be made available as a premium giveaway during one of KZUM’s upcoming fund drives (summer 2013).

But back to the book…..

Many gay men of my generation know little of the history of the LGBTQ movement, let alone those in the younger generations. Reading through Dr. Olson’s account of how he came to understand that he was gay, after being married for years, fathering two children, and establishing himself in a career, takes the reader through decades of the movement. Harvey Milk, ACT-UP, the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the more recent murders of Brandon Teena and Matt Shephard. By referring to these people and events, the book helps establish a timeline for the reader to have a better understanding of when things happened in Dr. Olson’s life.

Dr Olson

Throughout the book, Olson also provides information on studies and other people who helped him to better understand himself. Including his own (not scientific) survey that he used to launch some of the research he conducted as the skeleton of his work. The flesh and clothes he puts onto that structure will provide the reader with a better understanding of what it means to come out of the closet as an older man. The personal anecdotes will also help the reader to get into their own shell and get a glimpse of the heart ache and emotional pain that can come about for everyone involved when a person comes out, be it at a young age or in their middle or later years.

There are many books out there for teens, young adults or 20 to 30 somethings who are coming out to themselves and their loved ones, but this book is unique in focusing on the over 40 segment of the LGBTQ community. It is the hope of Dr. Olson that his book helps smooth the way for some of those people. And it is my hope that if you read the book you appreciate the heart and soul that it takes to make that brave step, no matter your age.

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The Everyday Psychic by Karen Harrison

everyday psychic -karen harrison

Karen Harrison‘s new book The Everyday Psychic: A Practical Guide to Activating Your Psychic Gifts, is an easy and informative read. Covering everything from how to prepare your sacred space to communicating with the dead and dream interpretation, the book will show you easy and not so easy ways to develop your psychic abilities. Working from the basis that everyone has some level of psychic ability, Ms. Harrison introduces the reading to a myriad list of psychic phenomena that almost anyone can learn how to activate and utilize in their everyday life.

A little back ground on Karen Harrison:  “[She] has been involved with magick, the psychic arts, and occultism since early childhood. She earned a Master of Herbology from the Emerson College of Herbology in Montreal, and is the proprietress of Moon Magick Alchemical Apothecary. She and her husband also own Isis Books, Gifts and Healing Oasis in Denver, Colorado, the largest and most complete brick and mortar store in the U.S. specializing in world spirituality, magick and herbs/essential oils.” – Press release from Red Wheel * Weiser * Conari

Covering a wide variety of psychic abilities, the book does give a basic introduction to all on her list and goes into details about how to tap into these abilities and use them to your own advantage and (more importantly) to help others in their daily lives and with their personal concerns.

  • Sensing, Understanding and using the Flow of Energy in Psychic Work
  • Opening to Your Intuition
  • Clairvoyance and Other Techniques to Access Your Psychic Senses
  • Contacting Spirit and Angelic Guides
  • Psychic Dreaming
  • Past Lives
  • Automatic Writing
  • Psychometry
  • Psychic Animal Communication and Spirit Animal Energy
  • Psychic Etiquette

I was especially pleased to read the chapter on angelic guides. I am somewhat familiar with the Angelic Choirs of the heavens, at least according to Judeo-Christian beliefs. Ms. Harrison takes those levels of the angels and puts them into terms that Christians and non-Christians can understand and use in their development. If for no other reason, her section on angelic guides makes the book worth while.

As a professional intuitive, I have spent years learning a variety of methods to prepare myself for providing my services to clients. Ms. Harrison provides details on many of those same methods and many more. Each chapter contains instructions on how to do the techniques she discusses in her book. A practiced psychic or intuitive may already know many of these methods, but even they will learn something new from The Everyday Psychic.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of Ms. Harrison’s book, I would encourage you to visit her store’s website before going to one of the major online retailers or even visiting your local Barnes & Noble or going online to Amazon or some such. If you like to go to the store and actually pick p a physical copy of a book before you buy it, I would highly recommend that you visit your nearest new age or Pagan bookstore. If they do not have a copy on hand, ask if they would be able to order it for you.

Blessed reading and blessed readings!

***

Karen harrison

Karen Harrison

In the spirit of full disclosure, this reader feels that he should inform you of how he came across the book. Every few months Red Wheel * Weiser * Conari of Hampton  Roads Publishing sends me a catalog with the option of receiving advance or review copies of several of their books. In last fall’s mailing, listing books that would be released this Spring (2013), Karen Harrison’s book was among those options. In short, I did not have to go out and buy this book. That said, I am under no obligation to provide a good review of the books I receive from Hampton Roads Publishing and its subsidiary companies.

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